Sinning Like a Christian: Greed

Posted by on Apr 3, 2014 in Faith Words |

Words of Faith
Rev. Rita S. Platt
March 30, 2014
Sinning Like a Christian: Greed
Luke 18:18-23

The weeks on our Lenten journey are moving us closer to the cross. Our focus during Lent has been Sinning Like  A Christian, based on a book by William Willimon that has the same title. The subtitle is “A New Look at the Seven Deadly Sins.”  So far we have examined anger, pride and sloth. This week our topic is greed.

When we think of greed one character comes into our mind : Ebenezer Scrooge.   Dickens says of him:       “Oh! He was a tightfisted hand at the grindstone, Scrooge! A squeezing, wrenching,  grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous old sinner! Hard and sharp as flint from which no  steel had ever struck out generous fire; secret, self-contained and solitary as an oyster  (1)

We can see Scrooge counting his money. But greed is not the appreciation of money or the accumulation of things. It’s not extravagance, because all that is relative. If you have more than one pair of shoes and a coat then you live more extravagantly than most of our world. Greed is human desire gone awry. It’s consumption out of control. It is when we allow ourselves to be controlled and devoured by some desire for material things.

Greed is COMMON. Greed is everywhere! God knew it would be, so he addressed the issue of money more than any other topic in the Bible except the Kingdom of God. Of the 30 parables Jesus told, 16 of them dealt with money. To put it into perspective, there are about 500 verses on prayer, 500 verses on faith, but over 2000 on money. Why? Because greed is a common problem.

Greed has nothing to do with what you OWN. Greed isn’t limited to affluent people. People with less often struggle with greed.  They spend hours dreaming and scheming how to make more money. They’re consumed by how to make a quick dollar, winning the lottery, or criticizing people who have more than they have. They’re convinced money will solve their every problem and make them deliriously happy.

To examine how greed is impacting your life, ask how satisfied you are with your life.   Your level of satisfaction and fulfillment in life is the greatest indicator of how greed is affecting or not affecting you. Greed struggles with contentment and when it has a hold of your heart, mind, and wallet, enough is never enough. It is important to ask the question because we can justify our greed.

When my children were young I enjoyed the time we spent reading together. Each child had a book shelf in the bedroom. They enjoyed different books but one author they enjoyed in common was Dr Seuss. I enjoyed his books, too. The wisdom shared was not limited to childhood.

The Lorax is a perfect illustration when we talk about greed.  Maybe you remember the book or saw the movie.  In the walled city of Thneed-Ville, where everything is artificial and even the air is a commodity, a boy named Ted hopes to win the heart of his dream girl, Audrey. When he learns of her wish to see a real tree, Ted seeks out the Once-ler, a ruined old businessman who lives outside of town in a stark wasteland. If anyone knows where Ted can find a real tree it would be the Once-ler.  When Ted explains the reason for his visit the Once-ler admits he knows of no real trees because he chopped all of them down.  His mind wanders to be day it all began:  How bad can it be?…I will make some money…I need to take care of  myself…I will help  the economy…I will give people jobs chopping the trees down…. And once he started he couldn’t stop. He chopped down more and more and more trees…making more and more and more money. (2) And it is not only in a Dr Seuss book. Income inequality is at a historic high and more than 46 million Americans are stuck at or below the poverty line . (3)

Greed is COMPULSIVE.  Greed can be summed up in a word: MORE!  We want more.   Americans want more, so we buy $1300. (average) on credit for every $1000 we make. (4)

But things can change . There is a remedy for greed:  Cultivate GRATITUDE.  Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Th. 5:16-18 Cultivate GENEROSITY.  Tell them to do good, to do a lot of good things, to be generous, and to share. By doing this they store up a treasure for themselves which is a good foundation for the future. In this way they take hold of what life really is. 1 Tm 6:18-19 If we cultivate gratitude and generosity we will realize we have everything we need and more.

1. Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol  (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1965)
2. The Lorax ,written by Dr. Seuss, was first published in 1971. The book is commonly recognized as a fable concerning the danger corporate greed poses to nature The film was released by Universal Pictures on March 2, 2012, the 108th birthday of Dr. Seuss.
3. Wikipedia
4. Wikipedia